Opinion: D. C. Nath (President, Patriot’s Forum) – Sanskrit Again, But At Home

DC Nath SmallPresident of Patriots Forum, D.C. Nath was superannuated in January, 1995, as the Special Director, Intelligence Bureau, D.C. Nath (IPS-1960) was associated with the International Institute of Security and Safety Management (IISSM), headquartered in New Delhi, for over 14 years, first as the Executive President & CEO and then as the President & Director General, between February, 1997 and March, 2011. The author of a highly acclaimed book, Intelligence Imperatives for India, Mr. Nath earned high plaudits from all around for two of his very significant presentations on: “Revisiting the Future of India” (2005, London) and “Lessons from India for the War On Terrorism” (2007, USA). He is the only one in the field, combining the experiences of a police officer with specialization in intelligence and strategic analysis and an industrial security expert par excellence. More Bio on D. C. Nath…



July 16, 2015

Dear Friends,


Subject: Sanskrit Again, But At Home


Well, Friends, we have not been dumping Sanskrit on you! That some one may take as an act of anti-secularism. Not that we are scared of such ignorant lot!

While reporting on the recent World Conference on Sanskrit, or earlier, we had repeated:


· that Sanskrit has been the only language of communication in some villages in Madhya Pradesh,

· that Sanskrit teaching courses are available on internet, and

· that a six week crash residential courses are available.


Now, we present to you Sanskrit At Home. Yes, we repeat it is Sanskrit at home. And, that too in the business capital of India, Mumbai. The report on P.9 in “The Times of India” of July 14, 2015, says, “Sanskrit Is At Home In These Mumbai Households”. The byline reads, “30 families adopted it long before govt. efforts at revival” It is indeed so interesting, we did not like to put this as attached. It is longish but please have the patience to read this with us once even if you have read that before. We have enjoyed reading it several times. The significant portions in the mail have been highlighted.


Quote (.)


Sanskrit is at home in these Mumbai households

All that the Katiras have to do is speak. Instantly, auto drivers grow nostalgic, elders fall at their feet and relatives start asking deep questions. “We sometimes feel like animals in the zoo,” says Mitesh Katira, whose home is one of the few Gujarati households in Mulund that has long replaced ‘Kem Cho’ with ‘Katham Asthi’. For almost 10 years now, the Katiras have been speaking Sanskrit at home and often startle their Marathi maid by asking for ‘soopam’ (dal) and ‘jalam’ (water).

In fact, Sanskrit is mentioned as the mother tongue in the school admission form of six-year-old Maitri, who is currently trying to convince her father that a tube light is called ‘vidyutdeepaha’ and not ‘dandadeepaha’. Despite all this, the Katiras feel unworthy of our camera. “Are the Germans applauded for speaking German or the Japanese for speaking Japanese?” asks Mitesh. “Why are Indians singled out for knowing an Indian language?” asks the chartered accountant, who knows the answer but doesn’t like it.

Even as German universities lap up desi Sanskrit teachers and the Thai princess wows with her Sanskrit prowess, the Vedic language stands crippled in its homeland. “It is seen as a divine language that cannot be used for business though it is easy to learn,” says Ujjwala Pawar, Sanskrit writer, about the language that is on the verge of getting its own joint secretary.

Beyond written verses, chants and the Bhagavad Gita, Sanskrit almost ceases to breathe in public conscience. Which is why it is largely confined to sacred occasions — poojas, weddings, funerals and the board exams. Needless to say, exchanging jokes in Sanskrit or calling the cellphone a ‘Bhramanbhasha’ is bound to make you a spectacle. However, 30-odd families in Mumbai have made peace with the attention. Many of them are part of a non-profit called Sanskrit Bharati, which believes speaking in Sanskrit is the only way to postpone its demise.

“If you learn it like a child, by observing and listening, it is easy to pick up,” says Mitesh Katira, who learned it after attending a 10-day teacher’s training course in 1998 which was conducted in Sanskrit. Not only does he now think in Sanskrit, “I have also started dreaming in Sanskrit,” laughs Katira.

This is probably why when his wife Archana was pregnant seven years ago, the family created a vision chart in the language for their child. It now hangs on their bedroom wall superimposed with pictures of Maitri who hands her mother a copy of the book of logic ‘Tarkasangraha’ and rattles off the qualities of elements in nature. Earth has the property of fragrance, she says, and fire contains heat. “This is a subject that sometimes even first-year arts students fail in,” says Archana, who also credits her daughter’s Sanskrit diction for sparing her English phonetics lessons, now a norm with hands-on mothers.

In the 2001 Census, around 14,000 Indians identified Sanskrit as their mother tongue. Also, according to Sanskrit Bhasha Sansthan, there are five villages that speak in Sanskrit. Yet, “people ask me what is the use of learning a dead language,” says Bhavna Bamania. “It isn’t dead, just rare,” says Bamania, who clearly doesn’t enjoy the awe that a conversation with her 10-year-old son in Sanskrit invites. “They look at you as if you are from another planet,” says Bamania, who teaches at a weekly class called Bala Kendram, where kids sometimes stump her by asking for translations of “paper clip”.

However, Sanskrit, re-iterate these families, can be elastic and modern. “We can make words from its roots,” says Panvel-based Sitaram Sharma, who uses ‘pinjaha’ (switch) and ‘sheetpetika’ (fridge) while conversing with his four-year-old daughter Lalitha. Sharma has downloaded apps filled with shlokas, which Lalitha has committed to memory.

“People don’t realise that like every language, Sanskrit has two versions, literary and colloquial,” says Sharma, a Sanskrit professor.

In fact, it was Sanskrit that made it easier for this Telugu man and his wife, who moved to Mumbai six years ago, to understand Marathi. “Since Sanskrit words form almost 60% of several Indian languages, we more or less understand other languages,” adds Sharma.

While the ministry’s move to appoint a joint secretary for Sanskrit has met with mixed reactions, these homes welcome it. “Every language is being promoted by a state government, but it is our responsibility to nurture Sanskrit,” says Sharma while 28-year-old Sumit Shah from Mulund feels it should be made mandatory in schools. “It is a universal language so it leads to better bonding,” says Shah, who runs a chemical firm, adding that Sanskrit provides access to 5,000 years of technical and spiritual literature.

Sanskrit has triggered curiosity about Indian history too. While Bamania was happy to discover doctors such as Sushruta, chartered accountant Mitesh Katira was curious about how India kept accounts in the 17th century. The language has also reshaped Katira’s world view. Once when the IT department raided a jeweller who would give loans against jewellery, the officials decided to tax him for the entire bounty though it didn’t belong to him. Katira explained the decision is unfair to the official by citing a verse that roughly translates to: “What appears isn’t always there and what doesn’t, sometimes exists”. This also comes in handy when, when strangers fall at his feet at his classes assuming he knows a lot simply because he speaks Sanskrit. “They make you feel like Baba Ramdev,” he says.

Unquote (.)


Friends, it is indeed heartening to know about the ministry’s move to appoint a joint secretary for Sanskrit and also that in the 2001 Census around 14000 (however miniscule) had identified Sanskrit as their mother tongue. And, how relevant as also correct is the appreciation that “it is a universal language, so it leads to better bonding”.

Well, when will our “buddhijibi” secular braggars wake up and learn their lesson? We apprehend they might even put up some Muslim imams to protest that the families involved were creating law and order problem by way promoting communal tension? Of course, we hope they do not dare doing so.



Your sevak,

D.C. Nath

(Former Spl. Director, IB)

(President, Patriots’ Forum)


Source: Patriot Forum

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